Golden Globes nominee profile: Leslie Odom Jr. (‘One Night in Miami’) could be double winner for acting, songwriting

Leslie Odom Jr. gave one of the year’s most inspired performances as soul icon Sam Cooke in Regina King‘s directorial debut, “One Night in Miami.” The Amazon film concludes with Odom belting out a spine-tingling rendition of Cooke’s classic Civil Rights Movement anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come,” a tearful climax that puts the actor’s range of talents on full display. For his efforts, Odom has been nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song.

In the first race, he faces off against Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Jared Leto (“The Little Things”) and Bill Murray (“On the Rocks”). While Odom is a first-time nominee, his competition has all been here before.

Murray won one of his six previous bids: Best Comedy/Musical Actor in 2004 for “Lost in Translation.” Baron Cohen has three prior nominations to his name, including a win for Best Comedy/Musical Actor in 2007 for “Borat.” Leto won this category in 2014 for “Dallas Buyers Club” and Kaluuya was nominated once before in the Best Comedy/Musical Actor category for “Get Out” in 2018.

SEE 2021 Golden Globes nominations list: Nominees for 78th annual ceremony

“One Night in Miami” is a retelling of an encounter that took place among four icons at the Hampton House in 1964. Cooke, Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) and Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) meet up to celebrate Clay’s (soon to be Muhammad Ali) heavyweight championship victory, but quickly dive into serious discussions about the pressures facing successful Black men in America. There is a notable tension between Cooke and X, who nearly come to blows when arguing about the singer’s music and impact on culture.

In addition to his bid for acting, Odom was nominated for Best Original Song for co-writing “Speak Now” with Sam Ashworth. With his young family’s future on his mind during the resurgent Black Lives Matters movement, Odom wanted to follow in Cooke’s footsteps and produce an activist anthem. The other nominated tunes are: “Fight For You” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), “Hear My Voice” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), “Io Si (Seen)” (“The Life Ahead”) and “Tigress & Tweed” (“The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”).

Odom has been singled out with nominations at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and SAG Awards. He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2016 for portraying Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” and picked up a Grammy Award for the original cast recording. In 2020 Odom earned his first Emmy nomination for voiceover work on the Apple TV+ animated series “Central Park.”

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Golden Globes nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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